Today we speak out against bullying for LGBT youth. Since I was certainly one of those youth I thought I might share some of my experience here. It seems the stars, my body, and the day all aligned perfectly for me to be not only available but also in the mood to share something so painfully personal. I don’t normally share my personal pains online for the world to read, I would feel vulnerable.
Before puberty I was very much a tomboy. I liked comfortable clothes, dirty shoes, and loved to spend time with girls. A thing about young girls is that they are often cruel. I remember in grade school the locker room had become a horrific dungeon. I wasn’t uncomfortable with nudity, I was uncomfortable with my reaction. I was ashamed of what I had already done with girls in my neighborhood. I wanted to be close to these girls. I wanted to be accepted, loved, noticed. I was crippled with confusion about my orientation but also keep in mind my home life was horrific. The girls ignored me, most of the time. To a point that I didn’t get chosen to be on teams. There was a girl that would pretend I didn’t exist, no matter what happened. She would run right into me and say nothing. She would regard me as simply an inanimate object. I was treated this way at home as well so it was par the course, as a child. I usually had zero friends, spent recess under a tree alone, and often became the object of a bullies attention. In middle school I was lucky enough to have a friend or two, but often they would see me get bullied. It was hard to be my friend, thank you DeAnna Cole! There was a girl bully who decided that I was her most recent target. She not only was in my school but she rode my bus. I sat and looked out the window and listened to music. Another girl sat beside me and did the same thing, it was how we kept them from noticing us. Stay silent, say nothing, hide…. its the defense of a bullied person. At one point she was raped, right beside me by a boy who was rumored to be in a gang. Later I had to tell the police what I witnessed. Things blew over and suddenly this girl began to sit and torture me. She also got off at my stop and beat me all the way home. I tried to run, I tried to hide, but nothing worked. At one point I laid in the middle of the street as she kicked me over and over. The bruises finally got the attention of my family. They wanted me to fight back, I wanted to die.
I began to act out, lash out, and I became a very dark individual before I went to high school. At home I was being forced into “dressing like a girl” and “getting a boyfriend” which became the main focus for the girls I hung around with. I was the quiet one they dressed up. I let them simply because I loved the attention. I began to act “cool” the way these girls were teaching me although I was NOT a good performer at that time and often bullies could see right through me. Their favorite way to torture me was to walk behind me and smack the back of my head. As more bullying happened and I ignored the pain in the my heart I became very angry.
I did tons of drugs and alcohol. I became severely depressed and tried to commit suicide so many times I couldn’t tell you. I was thrown in a children’s mental hospital. I hated myself as much as the bullies did, there must have been a good reason to hate me. I began to bully back just before high school and things got very ugly. I began to carry knives to school and stabbed a boy who tried to make sexual advances on me. I obtained a boy friend that was as creepy, scary, and intimidating as the “Undertaker” from the WWF – I needed a body guard!
He was no body builder like the undertaker but he had huge muscles because he lifted entire engines out of cars by hand. He was regarded as “ugly” by most girls but to me he was quite romantic, sweet, and polite. He did exactly what I needed him to do, he kept everyone away from me. I was so unsafe, I was so damaged, so abused. I needed a protector, I had never had one. He was also bullied as a young boy and he was happy to put a bully in their place. Just his presence ended up being enough, and it all stopped.
I was so damaged not just from the bullying at school but the teasing at home by my family when they were drunk. I felt so disliked and hated I escaped with my new boyfriend. Although it didn’t work out 15 years later I do have him to thank for all he did for me as a young girl. He protected me, never pressured sex with me and totally let me be the tomboy I was. He let me get dirty, he took me in the woods, and made my teenage years worth living. I owe him my life, I would have been dead otherwise.
Later, as an adult, after a 15 year marriage that was no longer, a grown child, and lesbian relationship I found myself in that situation once again. Yes as an ADULT! This time it was at work. I worked at a “low end” nursing home and found myself being not only emotionally but physically attacked by my co-workers. It was truly ridiculous. When I contacted the director of nursing about the issue she shut the door and threatened my job. I had already told her numerous times that it was becoming a problem and now it was certainly a problem. She told me that if I call the police that she would be sure they knew I hit her first. I stared at her, this was obviously a lie and she was using it to keep me from telling the police. Later I figured out that she didn’t want the police called because her job would be threatened, she did eventually lose it. She kept down playing the physical abuse and stating I had no bruises. I glared at her and then simply walked out of the room. I never returned. I called the police but couldn’t press charges because she managed to get several girls to say I hit first, which wasn’t true. I couldn’t tell you why I was hated so much at that nursing home but I will say that it was damaging to my soul, my psyche. There are all sorts of theories like that I was obviously gay, my race, or possibly my gift with the elderly.
I have a new and better job. I don’t tolerate verbal abuse of any kind, ever, from anyone. I told a supervisor once that I will not tolerate verbal emotional abuse at my newest job and she stared at me then walked away. Never again did she speak to me that way again. I tell other women at work to never tolerate it. I try to empower the women I am around. I will stand next to anyone who is being bullied and help them fight it. I have had to, twice. I will report elderly bullies as well.
I found that the best way to get it to stop, other than to get a huge body guard….is to reveal what they are doing. Don’t keep it a secret even though its shameful. I know its embarrassing that someone would hate you so much to do those tremendously damaging things to you. But really revealing their behavior will make it stop. Remember that the bully is in pain, that’s why they are doing this to you. They hate themselves so much that they must make you look worse, to make them feel better. Tell someone and if that doesn’t work, call the police. Seriously, call the police, tell people, tell everyone! Don’t let anyone minimize the effects it has on your heart, soul, and mind! It is damaging and heart breaking!
Also, know that later in life things get better. Although I have had to face bullying again in the workplace most times I don’t have to deal with it. I have more ways of dealing with it today, as an adult. I spend a lot of time healing these days, but I allowed the verbal abuse to continue into my adulthood. So watch out, search out health, and remember …. deep inside you there is an amazing person. Love yourself, Find a way, search it out, find good mental health. Don’t let anyone put their own pain on you! Its not your burden to carry.
I am so glad I survived all that, it made me who I am. I know what its like to be at the lowest of lows, so I understand more than you think. I understand hiding. I understand invisible. I understand pain. I understand. Today, I embrace healing and health. Today I spread love, understanding, and peace. I am a sort of modern feminist monk – and I know my limits. I will not fight back, violence only leads to more pain. Stay peaceful, embrace love, and spread your understanding. We can love the bullies back into peace!